Warmachine: The joy of playing with noobs

I’ve been playing Warmachine for about three and a half years now, and I think it is fair to say that during that time, I reached a point where my love for the game started to wane. I’m not sure it was one specific thing, but rather an accumulation of a bunch of small issues, negative experiences, and constant exposure to the internet that caused my relationship with the game to sour.

This manifested itself as burnout. At some point, I stopped going to tournaments. I started finding them to be too stressful. Having to lug army boxes across town on the bus and spend an entire day at a game store just became too much. A one-day tournament is half your weekend. There could be long breaks between rounds where you have nothing to do but look at the wall of products in the store for the 34th time and struggle to manage your anxiety level. You eventually tire of the same basic scenario, only with six variations that have different geometry. You end up stressing out over your next matchup – am I going to end up having to play my next round against “that guy,” or the guy who brought the really scary list that absolutely dunks on my army and makes the game almost pointless? What if I lose list chicken and am trapped for the next two hours in a hellishly bad matchup?

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For the last time, Harkevich is not OP!

On top of all that, there is the pressure to perform. In competitive pursuits, all too often, how much you are valued in your community and your own self-worth gets tied to your win/loss record. So, you end up pushing too hard, stressing out over every little mistake, trying to git gud and not fall off the competitive play treadmill. And do it all on clock. And when you finally win… well, a not insignificant amount of the time, you are quickly reminded that it is no great accomplishment because this model in your army is OP, that model is OP, and your entire faction is the easy mode newbie faction that any moron can win with.

Between that and consistent exposure to negativity on the internet on top of some baseline social anxiety, I was starting to get burned out on the game.

It was against this backdrop that a coworker expressed some interest in wargaming. He was a Lego collector so we started by doing a demo of Mobile Frame Zero, after which I offered him a demo of Warmachine. Of course, the first step was that I would have to paint up a second army, but I figured it was worth it.

So, I got together some Cygnar models and met him in the dingy basement of my FLGS for a battlebox game. I compressed all the important rules down to one sheet of paper and gave it to him, explained a few things, and ran him through the activation of a warjack, letting his Juggernaut spend some focus beating on my Ironclad. Then, we lined up against each other with a simple scenario consisting of a single circle in the middle of the table, and bashed each other’s faces in.

He enjoyed it and came back for more. But, as we gradually worked up from battlebox games to 35 points with themes and more complex scenarios, a funny thing started happening.

I started having fun playing Warmachine again.

Fun? That’s heresy!

In the Warmachine community it can sometimes be easy to lose track of the idea that the game is supposed to be fun. If you’re on the internet, most of the media you consume is focused on competitive play. Just about all of the micro-celebrities who are worshipped in this community are people who have won major tournaments. When you get caught up in this scene, you often end up grinding out practice games, paying the same few scenarios over and over and it can start to get boring. Then you have to keep it up because there is always a new boogeyman list in CID that you need to either figure out how to play or figure out how to beat to stay on top. “This is Warmachine; it’s not supposed to be fun!” or something to that effect is a common joke, but there can be a grain of truth to it.

At some point, it can just become mentally and emotionally draining. Your hobby starts to feel like work, and you start thinking you would rather stay home and paint than go to a tournament.

But, playing smaller games in a more casual setting with a friend was completely different. There wasn’t the stress of trying to perform at a tournament, because it was just a fun casual game and my objective was to help him learn and show him the possibilities of the game. We weren’t playing Steamroller, so we could set up whatever fancy terrain we wanted (including hills!) and create a little spectacle that looked fairly cool. Once he got the jist of it, we could finish a game in a reasonable amount of time, and if there was an early assassination, we had time to re-rack and try again. In short, we were playing for fun.

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Pictured: fun

The other thing is that at lower points levels, the information overload is lessened. One of the most challenging experiences in Warmachine is looking at your opponent’s list and realizing that you are up against an entire table of “what does this model do again?” At 35 points, there is still a lot of depth due to the caster and her interactions with the army, but the complexity is a lot less overwhelming when you aren’t up against the likes of multiple units and six different beasts, all with different stat profiles, roles and animi. Since you are less overwhelmed, you tend to have more complete of a tactical picture and can really play a good game with that engaging back and forth as the battle ebbs and flows rather than a “what just happened?” game where one feels “gotcha’d” into submission.

Fun is infectious

The other interesting thing about new players is that they often bring a sense of wonder into the game that has long since vanished from the heart of the veteran player. Everything is cool and new to them, and that excitement is contagious. Getting new players to try a power attack for the first time is just such an awesome cinematic experience that you can’t help but smile as his big ugly beast throws your giant robit at a swarm of infantry. Seeing the guy I’m getting into the game start talking about lists, lore and painting and getting excited about it gets me excited and has rekindled my passion for the game.

It also reminded me of why I, and likely why a lot of other players, got into the game. I didn’t start playing because someone told me that there was this intense tournament grind and maybe someday I could become the next Iron Gauntlet winner or go to the WTC. I started playing because me and the guy who got me a battlebox for Christmas one year went out one night had fun pushing our little painted dudes around. And also because I got the starter box and read about how Sorscha was this badass warrior wizard who commanded this awesome giant coal-powered robit to deliver a giant axe to the faces of all foes of the motherland.

The bottom line

New players are the lifeblood of a community, but judging by some of the internet chatter that I’ve seen, some players consider it a chore to onboard them into the game. Playing below 75 points in a non-tournament standard format and using lists that are a little watered down to provide an enjoyable experience rather than the optimum way to stomp someone into the ground is anathema to a certain section of the player base. If you are stuck on that competitive treadmill, taking a night away from practice games for tournaments to help someone who can barely allocate focus is a costly proposition.

However, new players are the lifeblood of a game like Warmachine. But don’t play a battlebox game with a new player for the game or for the “meta”; do it for yourself. Rather than being a chore, if you go into it with the right attitude, you may find bringing new players into the game to be more enjoyable than doing yet another 75 point steamroller game. And, if your enthusiasm for the game is flagging, seeing it through the eyes of a new player can help remind you what got you into the game to begin with.

Bonus: Hot take!

After a few 35 point games, I asked my coworker if he would like to move on up to 50 and then the tournament standard of 75. He told me that he was comfortable at this level and didn’t want to add to it for the time being. Which, it turned out I was completely fine with, as by this time, I had learned that Warmachine is much more fun at 35 points than at the tournament standard of 75.

Painting is Good: A Response

So, a thing happened on the Warmachine internet today

While I am loath to start an internet fight, especially with someone who has way more pull in the Warmachine community, it seems as though I have been called out a little with a couple comments in the article that seem to be referring to my articles suggesting the use of painting as a tiebreaker or to grant small in-game bonuses for painted armies is a toxic attitude that has no place in the game.

So, I’m going to lay out my thoughts on the subject and provide, if not a counterpoint, at least a basis for some discussion that is hopefully a little more positive than the last time I talked about this.

Emotions

I will acknowledge here that this is a subject where emotions are running high. People who are trying to get painted but aren’t there yet can feel bad when others talk about how awesome it is to play it painted. Those who try to push for fully painted events or encouraging painting in organized play are occasionally branded “paint-shamers” (protip: don’t google “paint shaming”) and told they don’t belong. Even saying something as innocuous as “fighting the war on the grey hordes” can be cause offense. Some competitive players feel strongly that painting interferes with the purity of the competitive game and that models are and should be nothing more than stats on bases. And those of us who started with Warhammer may have had some traumatic experience arguing with a judge over the three colour rule or chafing at biased paint judging. In this sort of environment, I don’t have particularly high hopes for a non-heated discussion and am pretty sure that this question isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon but… I don’t know, I guess I’m enough of a masochist that I’m ready to wade into this pool once again.

Everyone CAN paint

First, I would argue that the occasional painting requirement isn’t as exclusionary as people say it is, for the simple fact that (just about) everyone can paint.

We live in a golden age of miniature painting. There are tons of products out there, from Army Painter colour matching spray primers to GW Contrast Paints designed to get your army painted up quickly. On top of that, the internet has made a ton of content available for free on how to get your army painted up quickly. Duncan can show you how to paint a space marine in 10 minutes, and if you don’t like the basecoat-wash-drybrush method, you can check out sketch style or just slather the thing in contrast paints.

Incidentally, I would guess that a not-insignificant portion of those who don’t like painting are victims of a bad experience when they were just starting out. Something like trying to paint Army Painter yellow straight over black primer because they don’t know any better, and then having a bad time, getting frustrated, and quitting. These are people who can be shown the light.

Perhaps there are a small number of people out there who have very specific disabilities that mean they legitimately can’t paint but which doesn’t affect their ability to play the game, however the intersection on that Venn diagram is so small that this argument isn’t particularly meaningful, and communities can band together to help those people. If someone I know wants to go to a fully painted tournament but has an issue like severe carpal tunnel, I’ll bust out the airbrush help him at least get to a three colour minimum quickly.

Now, “I can’t paint,” “I don’t want to paint,” “I don’t have time to paint because I have seven kids and work 12 hours a day,” and “I don’t have time to paint because I play six hours of Overwatch a night” are all fundamentally very different arguments, and this is where discussions often go south. However, before we dismiss the very concept of rewarding painting or having a fully painted event out of hand as “not inclusive,” we should recognize that “not having access to a painted army” isn’t some sort of immutable characteristic like the colour of one’s skin.

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Born this way!

Painting makes the game better

This one shouldn’t be controversial, but it probably is. I feel like there is something about seeing two fully painted armies go at it that makes for more of an enjoyable experience for everyone. Privateer Press recognizes this; it is why they strongly encourage people to play it painted in the steamroller packet and put a lot of effort into promoting the hobby aspect of the game.

Further, I would argue that given the importance of target selection in Warmachine, painted armies improve competitive play. It’s a lot easier to pick out which dude is a solo or unit attachment at a distance when the armies are painted. Even if they aren’t well-painted or painted in the studio colours, just blocking in some colour or doing some dry brushing allows your opponent to pick out distinct shapes like the tiny emblem on the shoulder pads that the unit attachment has from across the table much easier than if they are looking at a sea of unpainted plastic or black primer.

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See how much easier it is to distinguish the UA and Leader of the Shocktroopers on the right for both players. Now imagine they were unpainted…

Painting attracts new players

I do think playing it painted does help bring new players into the game. I’ve been spending the past couple months getting a coworker into the game, and one of the first things I did when I embarked on that journey was painting up some Cygnar so I could play the bad guys fully painted against him. My feeling is that this, along with taking some care to make the tables look good, helped get him hooked much more efficiently than if I were to roll up with the blue plastic battlebox and duking it out on a table that looks like the battle of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Now, he’s making his first big purchases and watching both battle reports and painting videos.

Further, if we are playing in a highly public space, such as a large, multi-game convention, then we are competing for people’s eyeballs with games like 40K, Age of Sigmar, Star Wars Legion, and X-Wing. By putting in an effort to make the game look good, we can attract more attention than if we were rocking grey plastic.

What would I like to see?

I’m not saying that you should have your army fed into a wood chipper if you dare show up with unpainted models, or that game stores should scold people who dare show bare plastic in public. However, all too often, it feels as though the hobby aspect is an afterthought in Warmachine, and as someone who appreciates the aesthetic aspect of the game, that’s something that is occasionally frustrating.

I think it would be nice to have something baked into the game or into organized play to encourage painting. The catch is, I’m not sure what that would be. I’ve thrown out a couple suggestions in the past like a small in-game bonus for painted armies or using proportion of models painted as a tiebreaker, but the negative reception that these ideas received in the WMH community (apparently suggesting an alternative method of doing tiebreakers is a “toxic attitude” now?) pretty much renders them a non-starter.

I do think having painting awards at the local level is a good idea. Unlike Jaden, I don’t think they need to necessarily always be raffles. The beauty of a painting award is that, unlike a tournament prize where there aren’t really any alternatives to just giving it to the person who won all her games, there are lots of ways to do a painting award and you can mix it up so everyone has a chance and you keep the competition fresh. Best army, best unit, or best single model. For unit or single model, you could require them to have been painted within a certain period of time so the guy whose Sorscha won Crystal Brush in 2005 doesn’t keep bringing the same model. You could decide by popular vote or, if you have one shark who is winning the painting competition all the time, you could enlist her as a judge and have her choose the winners and offer any desired feedback. Or, yes, you could have a raffle for everyone who has accomplished something like field a fully painted army or finish painting a unit in the last couple months.

I would also point out as an aside that, right now, the problem of having one or two people from the meta winning every time and being a discouragement to other players is a reality for tournament prizes, though it is rarely talked about. One of the guys in my meta won the big tournament at Lock and Load a couple weeks ago, so I have zero chance of winning any tournament that he shows up to (not that I hold it against him or anything). It seems a little unusual that the best player winning the tournament all the time isn’t seen as an issue, while the best painter winning best painted all the time is a reason why we can’t have painting awards. If, at a tournament, the only prizes are given for competitive performance, then you risk harbouring resentment when the newer or less-skilled players just have their lunch money in the form of entry fees taken month-in and month-out.

As for painting requirements at tournaments, I don’t think they should be necessary all the time. However, I would like to see a fully painted, premier-level tournament format officially supported by Privateer Press. Since they not only got rid of all painting requirements in their Masters and Champions format, but worded their packet in such a way that you aren’t allowed to run an officially sanctioned Masters or Champions event with a painting requirement, I haven’t heard of any fully painted event within 1000 km. In effect, the number of fully painted tournaments that I can go to has dropped to essentially zero, and that is kind of a disappointment for me.

I feel like the sort of big conventions that you plan your attendance at six months out are a great venue for a fully painted event. Since the people who want to travel great distances to go to these events are making travel plans months in advance, they have a lot of time to get a couple lists painted. With space and time for multiple tournaments, Iron Arena, and other programming, people who don’t have a fully painted army don’t have to twiddle their thumbs. For people like me, we are more likely to make the trek because a fully painted event is a special experience, and it’s not like we are ever going to qualify for the super top level invitational tournaments that do have painting requirements like WTC or the Iron Gauntlet finals.

Trash Talk: Not just for painting!

The impetus for Jaden to write this article was a meme of someone making a disappointed face that his opponent was unpainted. First, I’m as guilty as anyone of using sarcasm in my writing and having it not be conveyed properly in text, or having a dry sense of humour that doesn’t always come across as intended. I’m sure the offending meme was meant as a humourous, tongue in cheek joke, however it was evidently taken serious enough to spawn now multiple articles in the Warmachine blogosphere.

However, if we are to talk about “paint-shaming,” I feel like that is only one small part of how we treat each other in the Warmachine community. Even if you consider the occasional tongue in cheek reference that I’ve made in the worst possible way, I’ve still taken a lot more crap for playing “easy mode” Khador (while Cryx, not Khador, was dominating the tournament scene, but I digress) or not being good enough at the game than I’ve ever dished out over painting.

There is a line between gentle ribbing, friendly trash talk, and stuff that comes across as disrespectful or bullying. That line can be in different places for everyone; I know for me, there was a time when I was doing more tournament play and I would get very sensitive to comments about how I only won because models like Harkevich or Torch in my army were OP because it was taken as an attack on my abilities at a point in my life when I still cared about being good at the game.

Further, internet meme culture is notoriously harsh, particularly in nerdy, niche communities like Warmachine. There are some forums and facebook groups that I personally try to avoid because they are a cesspool of negativity and they make me not want to play the game, so I can see why there would be a negative reaction to something like this.

So, are memes making fun of unpainted armies wrong? Maybe – after all, a little trash talk between close friends who know where each other’s line is is a lot different than going up to a random new player and bullying him – but is it any more wrong than memes portraying Khador players as unskilled mouth-breathers who just derp derp charge and win despite their lack of intelligence, or Cygnar players as whiny losers who don’t know what to do if they can’t crutch on Haley2, or Legion players as whiners who complain whenever they are told that there is a rule in the game that applies to them?

Conclusions

No, no one has to paint. However, Warmachine kind of has a reputation as the worst looking miniature game on the market and that’s not because the model sculpts are bad. I think finding ways to encourage painting that, while they are not judgemental, reinforce the idea that painting is a part of this hobby and is not a distant second fiddle to competitive play, is important. I’d like to see everyone encouraged to at the very least set having a fully painted army as an aspirational goal, because even in this golden age it does take time and sometimes you can’t get all your dudes painted before the big game. The more painted armies out there, the better it is for everyone.

Oh, and also don’t tell people who like painting or don’t absolutely hate painting requirements to go play 40K instead. That’s not helping grow the Warmachine community either.

Siege Strider: I hate painting horses

Yep, it’s true. The one thing that annoys me about miniature painting is painting horses. I’m not good at it and I don’t enjoy it. So, last year, when Privateer Press announced that their new releases for Khador would be chariots, I was initially a little disappointed, because that meant I would have to paint up some horses.

Fortunately, the part of my brain that thinks of dumb conversion ideas rescued me from this fate and decided to instead deliver me from the frying pan of painting horses and into the fire of expensive, possibly ill-conceived conversions.

I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, to be honest, but one of my miniature painting weaknesses is that once I get an idea for a conversion in my head, it’s hard to shake it until it’s done. So, Siege Strider it was. And, since I’m a glutton for punishment and a completionist when it comes to my Khador collection, I needed to make two Siege Striders.

Supplies

Of course, the first thing I needed to do was source the parts. Basically, this a kitbash of two boxes, the Siege Chariot and the Storm Strider. I used the legs and lower body of the Storm Strider, combined with everything but the horses on the Chariots. Also, a random assortment of plasticard sheets and tubes, which are very useful when doing these very mechanical conversions.

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I ended up using a few different glues and putties. I used brown stuff for general filling work, but switched to milliput for areas that I was going to need to sand to make smooth, flat surfaces. Finally, I also used a bit of “sprue goo” — that is, some plastic sprues dissolved in Tamiya Extra Thin — to fill gaps and glue together pieces of plasticard that weren’t quite coming together perfectly.

Finally, I got a pack of rivets and bolt heads from my local hobby shop. These are made by Meng primarily for automotive dioramas and come in various sizes. Simply shave them off the flat plastic piece they come on with a scalpel and glue them to the model. The advantage to this over doing something like dots of glue is that you get a uniform rivet size, which is close enough to what makes sense, especially when you need to add 263 rivets…

The Chariot

While the legs were the most important part of this conversion, there were a few things that needed to be done on the chariot. First, since we aren’t going to need wheels on this thing, I filled in the wheel wells with putty and plasticard and sanded them smooth, after which, I continued the line of rivets along the bottom of the side all the way across where the wheel well was.

I was left with the area where the axles for the wheels go in, and while I could have removed them as well, I decided on a different approach. I scratchbuilt a series of tubes out of plasticard tubes, putty, and those Meng rivets and connected them to the outriggers. The ends of the outriggers were cut off and replaced with some more tube stock, modified to turn them into exhaust pipes. With that done, I removed the attachment for the tow bar and filed that area smooth, and added a thick piece of flat plasticard to the bottom where it attaches to the legs.

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Modifications to the chariot. Note the wheel wells and scratchbuilt exhaust system.

Apart from that, it all went together in a pretty standard fashion, with some cleanup on the resin parts and some pinning. For ease of painting, I left the driver, shield, and gun in separate sub-assemblies to be done later.

The Legs

The legs were from the Storm Strider, but they had to be heavily modified to remove some of the Cygnaran influence. Cygnar models tend to be very rounded and often feature plasma conduits and electrical doodads. Khador has a more utilitarian feel, with more sharp corners and boxy shapes and tends to resort to raw power more than fancy electro-weapons. While most of the legs could have passed for any of the main Warmachine factions, the feet of the Storm Strider were distinctly Cygnar.

So, the first thing I did was shave and file off the little electro-pimples, because those just don’t fit in Khador. With those out of the way, it was time to scratchbuild some armour plate to go overtop of the existing filed-down feet. I started by playing around with some paper and cardboard, cutting and folding until I figured out the shape that I wanted. Once I got that sorted out, I made a template out of cardboard, from which I could cut out pieces of styrene. These were then scored and folded along the edges and roughly glued together using sprue goo.

Once I had the basic shape of the armour, I used plenty of putty and glue to attach it to the legs, covering up what remained of the rounded parts. I also made some covers for the top part, again out of plasticard. All this plastic origami ended up giving me the basic shape if what I wanted, and after backfilling it with milliput, I was able to file and sand down the rough edges to get the shape just right.

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Left, leg after electro-pimples filed off. Right, leg with armour plate overtop, and some sanding and filing done to smooth it out.

From there, I had to add some surface detail. So, I printed off some Khador symbols and traced them onto a piece of plasticard, then cut them to shape. Finally, I festooned the edges with rivets to add that Khador industrial feel.

With the feet done, it was just a matter of pinning and gluing everything together. I also had to scratchbuild some pipes, pistons and tubes in between the center section where all the legs come together and the body of the chariot in order to raise it up so the legs nicely clear the body.

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Ready for the paint booth…

Painting

With all the conversion work done, it was time to paint. For this project, I chose to paint in sub-assemblies, with the legs, body, driver, gun and shield being separate parts to be joined later. I did a zenithal prime with black and white Stynylrez, then sprayed some sections in pink, masked off a couple feet and a couple stripes, then brought out the purple. As usual, highlights and shade colours were applied to accentuate the contours of the model, using the same colours as the rest of my Khador army which I have discussed many times on this blog. From there, it was a matter of brush painting all the rest, adding weathering, and putting it all together.

Conclusions

Did I mention that I don’t like painting horses? Well, I don’t, and thanks to some scratchbuilding and some crazy ideas, I ended up with something unique and cool. And, with some of the spare parts, I was able to make a couple neat terrain pieces that can be used in narrative scenarios or simply to spruce up your battlefield.

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Warmachine: State of the Game 2019

So, one of the things they’ve been doing at the Southern Ontario Open for the past few years was getting together all the Warmachine talking heads into one big room for a discussion on the state of the game. This year, I thought I would share my thoughts in a written format, as I’m not cool enough to have a podcast and don’t have the voice for radio anyways.

Evolving Meta or Power Creep?

They started off with a discussion about how the meta seems to be constantly evolving, and how it was great to see people constantly trying out new stuff. However, I would argue that this has less to do with a meta where people are trying interesting stuff to try to counter what other factions are playing, then other players trying to counter the new interesting stuff, then that leading to a state of flux as everyone cycles between rock, paper, scissors, lizard and Spock, trying to stay ahead of everyone else. I think it has more to do with the CID process breaking down a little and causing some power creep. I mean, when one considers all the boogeymen that have reared their head in the meta over the past year, just about all of them save perhaps Nemo3 was a direct result of some new release or rules change that may have been slightly overtuned as a result of clamouring in CID.

I feel like the competitive balance of the game is healthiest when there is no boogeyman. While I’m not necessarily the best player, I think the few months between when Una2 got taken down a notch and someone figured out that Ghost Fleet is good was a great time for Warmachine, where there weren’t really any extreme outliers dominating the tournament scene, and people were doing a lot of experimentation. Since then, the internet chatter feels like it’s been just one boogeyman list after another.

I think the proof is going to be in the pudding in the next few months. With Privateer Press taking a CID break, it will be interesting to see if the meta settles down a little and we start seeing more flux and experimentation or if people are still going to be complaining about Lord of the Feast and Iona until the next new hotness drops.

Cutting models?

A large portion of the cast was devoted to the question of whether Privateer Press should start eliminating models from their range and from the game, and the general consensus seemed to be that it is time to do it. Two rationales were discussed for this – the idea that there are just too many SKUs clogging up the supply chain and making it hard on retailers and distributors, and that the number of models is a barrier to new players.

To be honest, I’m not sold. I’m not sure that SKU bloat is that much of an issue, because I’ve only ever seen one or two stores actually attempt to stock at least one of everything, and both of those stores do online sales as well as in person. Most stores tend to stock a limited number of models and get in some of the new releases, but for the rest, they generally order on demand.

Rather than cut SKUs by eliminating models, if SKU bloat is an issue, then what PP could do is consolidate some SKUs by bundling existing products. The three Man-O-War units could be combined into one multikit with the same bodies and different arms. Units could be bundled with attachments and non-character solos instead of sold separately. And, more importantly, PP could help provide stores with a little more guidance as to what products in their back catalogue are the sort of things that are popular or are starter products and should be stocked, and what you can get away with being special order only. Perhaps just classifying all those SKUs as starter, core, and supplemental would help a retailer with the daunting task of figuring out which of these hundreds of SKUs they should stock. They’ve already made steps in that direction by changing how they did distribution and by doing direct order for new huge based models that tend to sit on shelves for a long time and not move.

Not to mention that if the goal is to help retailers and distributors who are carrying Warmachine and make them more likely to want to carry the game, rendering a portion of the stock that they currently have on the shelves completely useless is likely going to have the opposite effect.

As for the idea that the sheer number of models is hard on new players, I have to counter that with one question: are new players really being turned off from Warmachine because they keep getting their faces kicked in by Assault Kommandos and Kossite Woodsmen? Or is the real negative play experience for new players running up against Iona and Lord of the Feast and not knowing that they need to place all their models exactly 3.2 inches apart and answer a geometry final exam question with shield guards and blocking models to not instantly lose? And, of these, which of the two is a new player more likely to actually run into in the first round of his first tournament?

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Kossites OP, plz nerf

I get that the sheer scale of WMH can be overwhelming, but I don’t think the solution is simply cutting models from the game. Miniature games fundamentally aren’t card games. There is a more intense connection with game elements in a miniatures game than there is in a card game. Hobbyists spend hours lovingly crafting and customizing their models and sometimes even take models in their army based on their visual appeal more than their combat effectiveness; telling them that they can’t use them anymore is going to frustrate a lot of people. There are ways to address this such as through promoting limited formats and lower points games where there aren’t as many models on the table with rules that need remembering that aren’t as drastic as telling people they can’t play with their toys anymore.

Which brings me to Champions.

As for Champions, the main problem is that it has an identity crisis. People think that it is supposed to be a limited format to make it easier for new players, but if you actually read the document and the dev notes in the CID, that’s not what it is. It is supposed to be an alternative format for experienced players to prove their skill; one where the limited roster changes up the meta and allows these players to showcase the skill with all their faction’s casters (including the off-meta ones) as they rotate through ADR, not just stick with the few in their faction that are the most powerful and/or slightly broken.

The problem with that is that the ADR has historically been somewhat difficult to balance; there is often one or two factions that are on top because their restrictions are that they are only allowed to take the best stuff in the faction, while everyone else has to try to counter it with their B-team. Further, removing the painting requirement also took away one point of distinction between it and masters.

However, the fact that people keep saying that Masters is an introductory tournament format indicates to me that there is a recognition that there is a need for this sort of thing. In my opinion, if you want a truly limited format for new players, you need lower points and a more static, more limited roster that only includes the relatively straightforward things in each faction and fewer really obnoxious gear checks. Call it Warmachine: Core and push it as an alternative to no-restriction steamrollers. The catch is that with the current community, at least those who regularly go to events and are loud on the internet, getting them to embrace anything that isn’t standard, 75 point steamrollers is a challenge to say the least.

Bringing in new players

As is par for the course in these “state of the game” podcasts, Evan hit the nail on the head when he identified onboarding new players as the biggest issue with the growth of Warmachine. While part of it has to do with the density and steep learning curve of the game, it is also the fact that the community, while it can be very friendly once you get into it, can also be very intimidating for new players.

Another important point that was made was that people get into WMH because it is fun and because they identify with the cinematics of the game and the badass warcasters that they love. The ones that got hooked had some exciting cinematic moments that brought them to the edge of their seat; for me it was getting my ass handed to me by Haley2 until I figured out how to assassinate people with Sorscha1. From that moment on, I was on Team Sorscha and refused to play Butcher because he was the jerk who killed Sorscha’s dad.

I didn’t get into this game because someone told me that it is the most competitively balanced tournament game and that I should look forward to getting my face kicked in 50 times before I am able to git gud enough that every game isn’t a miserable experience. If I was that masochistic, I would play competitive Starcraft or some other e-sport.

However, as someone who is currently in the process of dragging a coworker into this world, I think the biggest challenge is that to an outsider, competitive Warmachine doesn’t look fun. You generally have two people crouched over a flat table with flat scenery and unpainted models, staring intently at the apps on their phones. As often as not, one of the two players is frustrated and afterwards, they engage in a loud discussion about what is OP and what needs CID and what little things they hate about the game. That’s not conducive to bringing in new players.

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At its finest, wargaming is a social affair. It requires much more agreement and back and forth between opponents as you discuss movement, measurement, terrain, etc. While one of the strengths of Warmachine is that there is a lot of clarity in the rules and it lends itself to competitive play about as well as any wargame can, pure competitive gaming can at times be a little soulless and doesn’t look fun to outsiders.

Conclusions

Perhaps this article ended up being a little more negative than intended, but that wasn’t my intention. I love Warmachine. I love the steampunk aesthetic, the bell curve probability distribution of 2d6, and the resource management and push your luck aspects of the focus/fury system. And I’m not on the doom train; I think this game is going to be around for a while and I’m excited for things like Archons and Oblivion.

But, while I disagree with a few of the points made in the cast, these conversations are important. So much of the growth and longevity of the game is down to the community these days. We can’t just rely on being the system that is the default for castaways ragequitting That Other Game.

Moreso than a lot of other games, a player’s experience in a wargame is directly related to the people they play it with. Even if we aren’t up to the task of being community leaders, it’s up to all of us to make that community and each other’s experiences the best that it can be.

Southern Ontario Open 2019 recap

So, I went to the Southern Ontario Open for the third year in a row this past weekend. The SOO, which takes place in Hamilton every year around the beginning of May, is undoubtedly Canada’s premiere Warmachine event. Drawing 100-plus players in their Masters tournament, having a six or seven round Masters, as well as featuring Iron Arena, IKRPG, MonPoc, and hobby content over three full days, it’s kind of a big deal.

Champions

I chose to participate in Champions this year and forgo Masters as I did the previous year. I knew that going to both tournaments would be just too much Warmachine for me, and I wanted to focus on hobby lounge and iron arena. I ended up choosing Champions because I really didn’t want to pack three lists, and I thought it would be nice to get all the hardcore gaming out of the way early on then just chill the rest of the con.

My biggest apprehension about Champions, aside from the distinct possibility that I would be getting my face kicked in by Iona all day, was the lack of a painting requirement. Since I’m not a hardcore competitive player and there is about a zero chance of me qualifying for either the WTC or the Iron Gauntlet finals, the SOO for the past few years has been my one opportunity to attend a fully painted event. As someone who appreciates the aesthetic aspect of wargaming, that made it a particular highlight for my year in Warmachine and made whichever tournament had the painting requirement a can’t-miss event.

I know a lot of people disagree with me and have a serious problem with the above opinion, so if you are one of those, please direct all your hate mail to podcast@chain-attack.com.

Anyways, that all changed this year, with PP changing their official tournament packet in such a way that if a tournament organizer wants to have an official Masters or Champions event that counts towards their Iron Gauntlet qualifiers, they can’t have a painting requirement. As those Iron Gauntlet points are a big deal for top-tier competitive players and Warmachine celebrities, that basically precluded the organizers from doing a fully painted event, whether they wanted to or not.

However, it turned out to actually be less of an issue than I was anticipating. I was worried that with no painting requirements, it would open the door to a swarm of grey hordes. But when I walked around the tables, I was pleasantly surprised to see that at least half of the armies were fully painted and a lot of the others were clearly on their way there. Three of my four games were against fully painted opponents, so that was actually a pleasant surprise.

Regarding my army lists, I knew I wanted to do Sorscha3 with plenty of Man-O-War models, and I had those painted up and ready to go. Due to the ADR restrictions, the other list had to be in Wolves of Winter, which meant a few things. First, it meant that Vlad2, which is the only model in my collection painted by my sister and not by me, would be the ideal choice. Second, it meant I had to get a lot of models painted to make a coherent list. Third, my list wouldn’t be very good because I didn’t have enough Doom Reavers painted up to really swarm my opponent with them. Finally, it meant that since I hadn’t ever actually played Wolves of Winter and trying to follow the CID made my brain hurt, my plan was to put the Vlad2 army on my tray and make a show of thinking about which list to play, but actually just play Sorscha3 every game.

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I went 1-3 in the tournament, losing to Old Witch 2, Zaal2, and Ossyan. My one victory came against someone playing Deneghra in Slaughter Fleet Raiders. He had little opportunity to take advantage of drag, as my Shocktroopers were granted Sturdy from the unit attachment and I had a shield guard in the list just in case. I ended up catching Ragman with a spray from a Suppression Tanker early on, and from there on out, I pretty much just watched his army bounce off the heavy armour of my Man-O-Wars, smacking them around with retaliatory strike as they came in. I actually started feeling a little bad for him because once Ragman was dead and his alpha strike was denied by my clouds, he just didn’t have the armour cracking to effectively deal with my army.

Now, I’m not one of those people who loses one game in a tournament and drops out because there is no point to playing unless you’re winning. I typically stay in throughout the whole thing, outside of extreme circumstances. However, I hadn’t been to a tournament in a while and after four games, my brain was hurting and I had done enough Warmachine for a weekend, never mind a day.

However, in spite of going 1-3 and dropping, I still managed to win Champions, or at least the most important part, the best painted army award.

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Painting

While the main attractions for most people are the competitive tournaments and the Iron Arena, the SOO does have some excellent hobby programming, and I feel like everyone who attends the SOO should at the very least pop into the hobby lounge for a few minutes and check out the contest entries or see what they can pick up from their fellow hobbyists.

I managed to squeeze in a couple classes. I took one on polychromatic shading with Ben at Primal Poodle, where I learned some more about colour theory. While I may have been a slightly difficult student by asking questions like “is grey a colour” when told to basecoat a part of a model in a colour that interested me, I did take a lot away from the class. I also got the chance to show off some of my work with Ben and Faust and get some valuable feedback on what I’m doing right and where I can improve.

But even outside of formal classes, you can pick up a lot from just getting the chance to talk shop with your fellow painters. There was a fellow hobbyist who was having difficulty with a resin pour, and I was able to offer up a couple pointers on doing the formwork as I had gone through that pain a little while ago. And I did have to chuckle a little when someone said that she should look up some guy who did a Swamp Siren and read up how he did it.

I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time in the hobby lounge. Part of this was because I didn’t have a huge based model completed before the event, and was inspired to finish painting my Siege Chariot conversion and get it into the contest. Which meant that I stayed up until 6 am on Friday night working on it, then got up again at 9 and got back to work, eventually getting it banged out with a few hours to spare.

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Why did I leave this until the last minute?

However, my valiant effort was all for naught when a very nicely done Sea King, which is one of the coolest models in PP’s entire range, edged me out in that particular category. That said, I came away with victories in two of the four categories – small and medium model – with Sorscha0 and my Sorscha bust, respectively. And the Sorscha bust also won the best in show award, not to mention that it was Sorscha3 running my best painted army, so… Sorscha OP, plz nerf?

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Patrick Miller’s Sea King

In some ways, this was coming full circle. My first year at the SOO, I entered into the painting competition but came away empty-handed, and to be honest, I felt a few pangs of disappointment. By the time the next year rolled around, I had improved my painting skills and had some display only models to enter, and while I did win one category, the top prize remained elusive. Now, I know it’s unhealthy to compare yourself to others as a painter and get too competitive about it, but I decided I would make it a goal to win the painting competition this year. I upped my game with the skills I picked up over the past year and the classes I attended, and focused on getting that Sorscha bust looking good, and it really paid off. And, since Sorscha was my first warcaster and is my favourite character from the Iron Kingdoms, the fact that I was able to do so with her was a little poetic.

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In the categories I didn’t win, I got some good feedback from the judges, and to be honest, I can’t really argue with what they said. For the Siege Strider, they liked the conversion and a lot of the painting, however the main issue was that I had overweathered the upper half of it, which wasn’t super realistic and worked against the highlights I put in. This probably had a little to do with the fact that instead of putting it all together and then painting it, I painted and weathered the model in sub-assemblies, starting with the legs and working up to the gun and the driver. As such, instead of following a logical weathering progression tapering the weathering off as I went up which would have been much more effective, I just did a default amount of weathering on each part. While I did add some additional dirt and mud stains on the feet afterwards, it wasn’t enough to truly get across the story behind the weathering – that of a big walker stomping around the battlefield, with its legs getting beaten up as it grinds the filthy Cygnarans to dust beneath its feet.

Also, having stayed up until 6 am the night before working on the model probably didn’t help much with my ability to pull off a coherent weathering scheme while running on three hours sleep and three cups of coffee.

As for the group category, I debated whether to enter my Man-O-Wars or my Cygnar. I went with Cygnar because it was some more recent work, but then I ended up getting too hung up on what made a tournament-legal list, and included some models which were from when I was still working out the finer details of the scheme. This meant that Maddox, who was my first Cygnar infantry model, kind of brought the entry as a whole down a little with her mediocrity, as did my first Cygnar jack or two. And since consistency is important in group categories, that knocked me down a few notches. Had I not included Maddox in my entry and perhaps thrown in a couple of my more recent stormdudes instead, I think I would have been a little more competitive.

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Group winner – Vincent Beaulieu’s Dreamer

I also want to give a big shout-out to the competition. There were some real top-shelf entries this year, and in particular, I want to recognize Vincent Beaulieu’s Captain Ahab bust from Scale75. It was pretty awesome and I feel like it really gave my Sorscha bust a run for her money; in fact, I would say there are some aspects where it outshone my entry. However the nature of winner-take-all or ranked judging systems means that sometimes, amazing models that get edged out by other amazing models don’t quite get the recognition they deserve.

The Final Word

The SOO is always a great show, and is kind of a highlight of my year in Warmachine. Even as someone who isn’t a hardcore competitive player, you have to appreciate the passion for the game we all love that is on display in that room. This year in particular, I was feeling some frustration with the game and the community and the SOO kind of reinvigorated my love for this game. If you are a Warmachine player and can possibly make it to the SOO, circle the calendar and make sure you go. And, while you’re there, pop by the hobby lounge for a few minutes and say hi.

I’ll be the one still painting at 3 am.

Painting Cygnar – because someone has to play the bad guys

Lately, I have been dabbling in what might be considered heresy. I’ve been painting up a Cygnar army for Warmachine. Don’t worry, fellow Khadorans, I’m not betraying the motherland. It’s just that I’ve been introducing new players to the game lately, and someone has to play the bad guys. As such, I now have to paint up a Cygnar army so I can do that.

Starting out

To begin my army, I decided to combine the Mk.III Cygnar battlebox with the Cygnar half of the Company of Iron box, then supplement that with whatever I either had in my stash or could pick up to build up this force. This also pushed me in the direction of Storm Divison, which, while it isn’t the most competitive theme force, is probably good for playing intro games. Plus, I do like Maddox, the Cygnar battlebox caster, and she works well with Stormdudes.

Of course, the downside to this was that most of the models in these starter products are the rather mediocre PVC models in the starter kit. These are notoriously difficult to work with due to the difficulty of cleaning up mold lines; quite frankly, I might actually prefer metal models to this crummy plastic. On the other hand, Gwen Keller, the one resin Cygnar model in the box, was quite crisply detailed and only required the slightest amount of cleanup.

So, after much cleanup, I was able to get started with the battlebox contents, a unit of Stormblades and Storm Gunners, Gwen Keller, and a few accoutrements such as a Squire and Gorman di Wulfe, borrowed from my existing collection of mercenaries who work for Khador. The goal here is not to make the most powerful or complicated list; it’s to make a list that is decent and which is good to use as an opposing force to introduce new players to the game or in journeyman league scenarios.

Deciding on a colour scheme

It’s not every day that you start a whole new army, so when you do, it’s a good idea to put a lot of thought into your colour scheme. You want something that will look good on the table and won’t be too hard to paint. Of course, you could always just go with the studio scheme, but I like to be a little more creative.

I had a few ideas. First, I was thinking of doing a Cygnar Red Army, but as I looked at pictures I saw online, I got less and less interested in that scheme. I just didn’t feel like red Cygnar looked good in any of the pictures that I saw, plus the idea of a #southKhador army has been done already. Next, I considered a few bright colours such as yellow, orange, and white, but I realized that with all the electro-stuff on Cygnar models, it would make sense to go with a darker scheme as the OSL would have more contrast and look better against a dark background.

Now, I had a few choices for dark colours. Purple was out because that was the scheme for my Khador army, and blue was the studio scheme which I wanted to avoid. I considered a dark green, but I had done enough of that with some of my recent gundam projects and thought it might not provide enough contrast with the terrain on most tables. So, I eventually decided on a blue-black with light grey and yellow as secondary colours, figuring that would be different enough from the studio scheme to satisfy my rebellious tendencies.

The project

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Battlebox contents, cleaned and hit with a zenithal prime

After fighting through some of the mediocre plastics that is classic Privateer Press from before their resin started getting good, I started with a zenithal prime of white stynylrez over black. The plan was to airbrush the main colour, then pick out all the rest of the details by brush. For my main colour, I worked up from black, to Reaper’s Blue Liner, to P3 Gravedigger Denim, then P3 Frostbite. Readers of this blog will recognize this colour recipe from previous projects where I experimented with highlighting black. However, in this case, I went a little heavier on the blues than before, making it more of a desaturated blue than a black.

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Airbrushed and ready for brush painting

From there, I added some grey, yellow, and silver and brass metallics, using a lot of familiar recipes. White with purple shading and yellow ink overtop for the yellow, various Reaper greys for the grey, and my usual true metallic metal techniques for the metals.

Since most of these models are Cygnar stormdudes and since the whole reason for this colour scheme was to accentute the glow effects, it was time for OSL. Here, I would start out by undercoating the source of the light in white, then spraying on the glow with my airbrush and some sky blue. Add some touchups to make the source pop a little more, and you have a perfectly serviceable tabletop quality OSL.

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Glowy Stormdudes

Basing

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Some sandbags on the base to go with the trench warfare scheme

Basing is an important part of tying the whole thing together. A coherent basing scheme can really make your army look good. Since this is Cygnar, I decided to go with a trench warfare scheme. As such, there is basically no vegetation because the no-man’s-land has been chewed up by repeated artillery barrages that not much is growing. I also went with a little lighter dirt colour than I used on my Khador, as that looks more like some of the pictures of trench warfare that I’ve seen. It wasn’t that hard; just a simple matter of adding textured mediums mixed with craft paints for texture, and washing and dry-brushing to taste. Some simple green stuff sandbags and bits of barbed wire completed the theme, and some models have bits of debris that reflect their story – Maddox has Menoth bits on her base, while Gwen Keller has a pig’s head and a butcher knife on her base – and I did try to make the base a little lighter towards the front center of the models, just to focus the eye on the front of the model.

Also, I wanted to make the arc marks visible, but not too powerful that they draw the eye away from the model, which can be one of the most annoying things about painting Warmachine. As such, I went with a black base rim, with a sky blue hash line and grey lines next to it. This isn’t too bright, but it is still visible.

Acosta

Savio Monteiro Acosta is a bit of a unique model in this theme force. Technically, he’s not a Cygnar model, but he counts as such in this theme force. His lore is something about him being a roaming duelist and not an actual member of the Cygnaran military. As such, I wanted to do something different.

First, I figured it would be good to do a headswap. Stormblades fall into the category of people who are wearing such heavy armour that their gender is obscured if they’re wearing a helmet, so I figured I could get away with making a female version with just a simple headswap. So, I reached into my collection of Statuesque Miniatures heads and found one that would work and boom, it’s Sophia Maria Acosta now. I also wanted to give her darker skin, just because that’s a skin tone I haven’t painted as much.

Second, I figured it would be good to do a different colour scheme than the rest of my stormdudes. Instead of the usual blue-black, I decided to go with a camo green, with a burgundy cape and yellow highlights. The actual painting wasn’t too much different than the rest. I started with a coal black and worked up to green and added a bit of yellow in the highest highlights. Then, I masked off the green and did the cape, working from coal black up to P3 Sanguine Base, Sanguine Highlight, and the final shade Sanguine Highlight with a bit of Menoth White Highlight mixed in. I followed up with a bit of brushwork blending overtop to reinforce the shadows and highlights, and added a freehand pattern at the bottom of the cape just to add something to it.

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Since this was partially done for a painting competition, I decided to change up my strategy for varnish and adopt one that Vince Venturella has been advocating. I would save the metallics for the end, and before applying them, I would hit them with a coat of matte varnish. Then, I would paint my metallics and not varnish them.

This seems like heresy; the idea of playing with an unvarnished miniature, especially an unvarnished metal miniature. My gut reaction was that it would get chipped. However, the simple fact of the matter is that it is your primer, not your varnish, which is truly important for chipping resistance, and varnish ruins the finish on metallics. You can kind of save it by going back over the metallics with a gloss varnish, but it’s still not quite as good as leaving it au naturel. Vince claims that metallic paint is resistant enough to handling, so I’m hoping to test this and prove him right for myself.

Next Steps

So far, I’ve finished painting the battlebox, the Cygnar half of the Company of Iron box, a squire and a unit attachment for the Stormblades. This is enough to take me up to about 35 point games, including theme forces, and really introduce the fundamentals to new players. I have a few models assembled and with quick airbrush base coats applied to expand my force with, including a Stormblade Captain, a Journeyman Warcaster, a few support models, Brickhouse, and the Mk.II battlebox. I also have a few models yet to assemble, and am eyeing a box of Stormlances on the shelf of my FLGS. That should take me up to 75 points and beyond, and I’m thinking if I go for a second list, I might look at Kraye with a combined arms force in Sons of the Tempest.

Now, it’s just too bad Storm Division isn’t on the current Active Duty Roster…

Warmachine: What’s really wrong with themes (and how to fix them)

If you spend as unhealthy an amount of time on the Warmachine internet as I do, you will be familiar with a common complaint – that “thememachine” or the prevalence of theme lists in Warmachine, is horrible and is killing the game and that things were better back in the good old days of Mk.II. Of course, this is an exaggeration, but it has got me thinking.

First off, I actually don’t think themes are that bad. There are a lot of advantages to splitting up these factions into groups and restricting model choices. First, it makes it a lot easier to balance, in that a model only has to be balanced in its relevant themes and we don’t need to worry about some combination of that model, a certain warcaster, and two or three mercenary options breaking the game. Second, restrictions can actually encourage list diversity. If anyone could take any in-faction model any time, we would risk ending up with lists all looking like the same sort of soup of the strongest models in the faction, or starting with the same few faction autoincludes.

I also don’t think spam is inherently bad. It actually looks pretty cool to see a well-painted army with some uniformity to it across the table. Phalanxes of well-painted Iron Fang Pikemen with a coherent colour scheme can look much more attractive on the tabletop than some mixture of Iron Fangs, Winter Guard, and Man-O-War all mashed together and clashing aesthetically. However, while the argument that themes discourage list diversity is way overblown, I think there may be a nugget of truth in there.

Two ways to build lists…

It feels like there are two ways to build lists in Warmachine. The first way is to pick a variety of models that mutually support each other, even if such support isn’t as direct and straightforward as “This dude gives these other dudes +1 to hit.”

I think one great example of this is Armored Corps. While there are some models that directly buff each other such as the Kovnik and the various unit attachments, and there are some builds that just take one model and go ham with it like Butcher1 and three units of bombardiers, there are actually a lot of ways that elements in an Armored Corps army can support each other. Suppression tankers can lay down covering fire and deal with light infantry that would otherwise bog down (or in the case of weapon master dudes, tear through) your relatively low model count, heavy infantry army. Shocktroopers can screen heavy hitting Demolition Corps, and Bombardiers can provide a long range element for either sniping out key support pieces. And that is to say nothing of the speed of the Drakhun or the Chariots. While you are restricted to Man-O-War models, you can take a lot of different variations that each bring something to the table and add up to more than the sum of their parts.

This is actually similar to how squads in real life combat operate. A squad of soldiers in WWII might have a combination of soldiers with different loadouts and different specializations – riflemen, a light machine gun crew, a couple guys with submachine guns, some grenadiers, etc. All these soldiers would support each other in ways that make the sum of the parts greater than the whole – the guys with the machine gun would provide suppressing fire, allowing the riflemen to get into a better position. A couple guys with submachine guns may help cover the grenadiers as they approach an enemy position to lob grenades into their foxholes. And all the while, the designated marksman would pick off any high value targets that expose themselves.

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Of course, the other way is to find one model that is perhaps a little bit too strong for its points, take a caster that synergizes with it, and just go ham with it. The quintessential list here is Cryx Slayer spam, though there are some other popular lists that come to mind as well. Once you figure out that Slayers in the Black Industries theme force are pretty good and pretty cheap, and Asphyxious3 makes Slayers better, the logical conclusion is to take Asphyxious3 and as many Slayers as you can cram into your list to really leverage that synergy. From there, you just hope that the combination of a good model with a caster who can serve as a force multiplier can just brute force anything in front of it, including your opponent’s nice combined arms list with plenty of mutually supportive elements.

The real life equivalent would be like if the British army decided that since Sten guns are cheap and effective, they’ll just produce and issue nothing but Sten submachine guns to their army. That’s one strategy I suppose, but in real life, it’s not a very good one and prone to have catastrophic results when these poor Tommies run up against a problem that spray and pray with a submachine gun can’t solve. While I’m not one to say that our game of magic robots punching dragons needs to be a realistic simulations of real-life combat, in the world of wargaming, “everyone gets a Sten” isn’t as tactically challenging and intellectually stimulating as spending your lunch break at work weighting the pros and cons of adding a designated marksman to pick off high value targets to your squad versus incorporating another light machine gun crew for more effective covering fire.

Back to themes

One catch here is theme forces. While some themes like Armored Corps have a nice diversity of units and can incorporate mutually supporting elements rather than just running as many Slayers as possible, some are a little more restricted in either the models you can take or the models that count towards free cards in the theme. Between this and our predilection to find a synergy and go ham on it (see: Asphyxious + Slayers = win), players are strongly encouraged to take as many points of models that count towards free cards as possible because free stuff is really good. For example, you could take a bunch of Kayazy Assassins in Jaws of the Wolf or Sword Knights in Heavy Metal, but in doing so, you are forgoing free cards, which makes it difficult to justify unless you have a really compelling reason to.

One way to deal with this is to lower the threshold for free cards to 15 points, and cap the number of free cards at three or so. That would allow people to take models that don’t count for free points – things like warjacks, journeyman warcasters, and mercenaries – and build a more combined arms list, while still maxing out on free points and not being punished by the free points economy when compared to straight spam lists. Of course, if we simply drop the points threshold for a free card without instituting a cap, then we end up in the same situation as before, except instead of maxing out on a certain model type to get three free cards, people will max out on the same model type to get five free cards.

We can already see this in at least one of the themes. I find Sons of the Tempest in Cygnar to be particularly interesting to build lists for, in part because you get the free card after every 15 points of Arcane Tempest models instead of 20 or 25. While there isn’t a hard cap, people generally don’t try to maximize free cards by taking 75 points of gunmages because all those POW 10s probably wouldn’t have the raw hitting power to take down a heavily armoured force. So, when building a list in that theme, people tend to limit themselves to about three free cards, using up 45 points and spending the other 30 points on things like warjacks, mercenaries, junior warcasters, etc., to bring some heavy hitting power to the list and make it a little more combined arms oriented than taking just the bare minimum number of warjacks and filling the rest with in-theme infantry.

Because of a combination of a lower points threshold not pressuring players to maximize free cards, as well as some of Cygnar’s great journeyman warcasters, you can actually make some interesting combined arms lists in Sons of the Tempest and still get a decent amount of free cards. Kraye, for example, could be played fairly jack-heavy in this theme, using the jacks for heavy hitting and the various gunmages to support, clear chaff, and push enemy models around as well as apply Kraye’s feat.

Further, in addition to encouraging more combined arms play, this could help bring models back to the table that don’t fit well into theme forces because they don’t count towards free cards. Assault Kommandos, I’m looking in your direction.

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Did somebody say my name?

Conclusion

Themes aren’t going anywhere, and longing for some good old days of Mk.II which may or may not have actually happened isn’t useful. While there are a lot of benefits to themes such as making armies look coherent, making the game easier to balance, reducing the instance of seeing the same overpowered model in every list in a faction, and basically being a shopping list for a new player, one weakness is that they don’t lend themselves to combined arms play – which is already discouraged by some of the powerful combos and synergies in the game.

By reducing the free card threshold and capping the number of free cards, Warmachine could take a small step away from trying to stack buffs onto a dozen of the most cost-effective model and towards combined arms lists with mutually supporting elements. That could increase the tactical depth of the game without greatly increasing complexity, and I, for one, would much rather have a game decided by who best brings his mutually supporting elements to bear on a battlefield given the challenges of terrain and the movements of the enemy than one of hard counters, gear checks, and putting all one’s eggs into one basket and then winning or losing at list selection.

My Wishlist from Privateer Press

butcher_klus.jpgIn the spirit of the holidays, I thought it might be nice to put together a little Christmas list for Butcher Klaus regarding what I would like to see from Privateer Press in 2019. While not all of these are necessarily within the realm of reason, neither are half the things people ask for in their next CID. And, of course, I’m far from an influential figure in the Warmachine community and I’m pretty sure Matt Wilson doesn’t read my blog, but I figured I might as well commit these to writing anyways.

1. Dropper Bottles

Yeah, I know, it’s not easy to change up your entire paint production line and everything that supports it. Especially if you contract out your paint production like so many companies do. But seriously, you have a good paint handicapped by the fact that it comes in a delivery system that is competing with GW for the title of worst in the industry. And, this is my wishlist so I can be as unrealistic as I want.

Dropper bottles are so much better than paint pots. It’s easier to put a drop on your pallet, or especially in your airbrush. Further, since they are generally taller but with a smaller footprint, they are more efficient in terms of storage on your paint rack. Any paint buildup around the nozzle can be easily taken care of with a safety pin or a paper clip, unlike paint pots where you can get dried paint all around the lip. Dried paint which can make it hard to open and close the lid, or cause it to crack. Or paint that gets on your finger when you’re trying to open the pot, and then gets transferred to the model.

Droppers are better than paint pots. It would be really nice if PP could get with the times on this one. And while they’re at it, throw in a nice heavy agitator that doesn’t corrode as well.

2. Better QC on resin models

Privateer Press has really great customer service. Unfortunately, the reason I know this is because I’ve had to interact with them on a number of occasions regarding miscast resin pieces.

I get it, nobody’s perfect, and there will always be bad product that slips out the door. I’ve also seen some serious improvement on that front over the past year or two, so credit where credit is due. And I understand that taking care of mold lines is part of this hobby. But I used to work in aerospace manufacturing, and while airplane parts are generally a little more mission critical than wardollies, one of the big lessons there is that the best way to improve your productivity is to do things the right way the first time. Having to ship individual replacement parts out to people can’t be good for the bottom line.

Especially on things like mini-crates and busts — these are limited edition collector pieces that are often going to be painted up for display. You can’t get away with the sort of imperfections on these models that you might be able to get away with on random grunt #7 who is likely to never be touched by a brush.

3. Better international distribution on BAHI

When Black Anchor Heavy Industries was first announced, I was one of the few that thought it made a lot of sense. SKU bloat is a problem for retailers, and I’ve seen some retailers take on stock only to have it sit on the shelf because that model is seen as non-competitive. And having to sell a huge based model at a loss after it has sat on a store shelf collecting dust for four years really stings.

So, for PP to take on selling some huge based models directly and make things easier on distributors and retailers makes sense. Unfortunately, where it starts to become an issue is when it comes to international distribution. Between shipping, taxes, and customs, models can start to get prohibitively expensive, especially in Europe. It’s been getting controversial as of late, and a lot of European players are frustrated and looking for alternatives. While I don’t condone using proxies in official tournaments or going to (scum of the earth) recasters, the price tag on something like a Hooch Hauler is starting to get a little eye-watering for our friends across the pond.

4. A smaller format

I actually liked the Rumble format, but judging by the commentary on the internet, I was the only one. Rumble, for those of you who don’t know, was a format in the back of the steamroller packet for 35 point games played on a 30×30″ board.

While I only got a few games in, I thought it was a great idea. A small battle of Warmachine that could be over and done with in an hour or hour and a half is a great idea, as is a 30″x30″ board because that’s how wide a standard table is. Simpler scenarios made it a great option, particularly for newer players who aren’t quite ready for a 35 point brawl yet. Even as a somewhat experienced player who hasn’t memorized all the opposing models from all the factions, reducing the model count makes figuring out an opponent’s list less overwhelming.

Unfortunately, given some of the combos available, it was a little to easy to break the game. If you have an assassination run with a 31″ threat, it’s gets real tricky to avoid that on a 30″ board. However, if you put in the right amount of restrictions — perhaps restrict it to battlebox casters and a few others in each faction that aren’t able to bully an entire 30×30, and keep huge bases out of it — you could fix a lot of the problems and make the learning curve a bit less of a brick wall. This might even be a good place for a no-theme format as well, as some theme benefits may be a touch problematic.

5. Bring back painting requirements

2018 saw some changes to the Steamroller, Masters, and Champions packet. One of these changes was that the painting requirement was not only dropped from Champions, but it was worded in such a way that a painting requirement isn’t even an option at an officially sanctioned Masters or Champions event.

While I get that a limited format and a painting requirement aren’t necessarily the best combination, almost completely eliminating painting requirements is a strong signal from the top that reinforces the sadly all too common idea that the hobby aspect of the game is an afterthought which does not and should not matter. Painting does matter; aesthetics are an important part of wargaming for a lot of people, and are why we play with models rather than playing with pogs or chits.

I’m not saying every event should have a painting requirement. But for me, I’ve been going to the Southern Ontario Open for the past two years, and one of the highlights of my year in Warmachine was getting to play in a tournament where I can play five or six games in a row with and against fully painted armies. That basically never happens out in the wild, and now that painting requirements have gone the way of the dodo, the only way I would be able to have that experience again is to qualify for something like the WTC or the Iron Gauntlet, neither of which is ever going to happen. Being able to go to one or two events a year and get a lot of fully painted games in would be nice.

Perhaps Masters would be a good place for a painting requirement? With no model restrictions, hobbyists can put together whatever cool army they want, and you don’t need to worry about the format limiting you to only the models you haven’t painted yet like with Champions.

6. Ease up on conversion rules

Just about every time I see someone post an amazing conversion on facebook, I see the same response: “that’s cool, but is it tournament legal?”

For the most part, I think PP’s conversion rules are reasonable. No proxies, nothing too confusing, and mostly PP parts. Yeah, I get it, you need to keep things somewhat identifiable and PP needs to sell models so the Wills can get paid. However, there are a couple areas where I feel a little more flexibility could go a long way.

First, cavalry models are in a bit of a tricky place because if you want to do a mount swap, unless you can find another PP model that represents what you want, you’re pretty much immediately running afoul of the 50% rule because the mount is generally more than 50% of the volume of the model by itself. So, no Owlbear cavalry for you, even though a Man-O-War Drakhun riding an Owlbear into battle would literally be the coolest thing ever. Perhaps either exempting cavalry models from the 50% rule completely, or saying that cavalry only have to be 25% PP parts could unleash some creative freedom?

Second, what if we allowed an exception for a small portion of a player’s army? Say that at least 90% of your army must follow the conversion rules, but if you have a sufficiently badass idea for a cool centerpiece model, go nuts.

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My conversion strategy

While clearly, as evidenced by the BAHI Europe brouhaha, TOs have some latitude to say that a cool-ass conversion that is only 49% Privateer Press parts is kosher at their tournament, the fact that the initial reaction to any cool conversion is “but is it tournament legal?” creates a bit of a stifling atmosphere for those of us who like to take out a jeweler’s saw and ruin multiple perfectly good models in a quixotic attempt to make one cool looking model.

7. No Quarter Online?

With the demise of No Quarter Prime after only six issues, there is a void that is going to need to be filled. NQP was supposed to be a one stop shop for fluff, hobby content, new IKRPG rules, etc. Now that it’s gone, that stuff has to go somewhere.

Losing the physical magazine kind of sucks. However, this is also an opportunity. The internet allows for things to be categorized and tagged a differently than a dead tree format. You could have all the hobby articles in one place, or all the scenarios that have a more interesting narrative element to them than standing in random circles to win, or create a database of canonical alternative paint schemes for inspiration.

And, while we’re at it, maybe run a few contests to engage the hobby community? The Company of Iron contest was fun; something like that in the online replacement for NQP once in a while might be nice?

8. Riot Quest!

At the last Lock & Load keynote, we were treated to a video for an upcoming product called “Riot Quest.” Said video was kind of cheesy and went over like a wet fart, which means it’s probably the worst thing to happen at an L&L keynote since, well, 2016.

However, cheesy video aside, we did spot some pretty cool art near the end, like what looked like Boomhowler with a gatling gun and some interesting characters. Unfortunately, the video left us with more questions than answers. Questions like “what is Riot Quest,” and “so, what’s the difference between this and Necromunda?”

I think for the longevity of both Warmachine and Privateer Press, it would be great if PP had some more diversified revenue streams. Kaiju isn’t my jam so I’m not really interested in MonPoc, but I really hope it is successful, if only because I want PP to be around for a while and I want them to have products that appeal to people other than the hardcore Warmachine tournament crowd. Same goes for Riot Quest — I find it intriguing, and even if it ends up not being my thing, I really hope it is successful.

Also, Riot Quest.

 

Ruin: The Overspray is the OSL

When I first started miniature painting, there were two techniques that seemed like elite level god tier things that are the difference between someone who is okay at miniature painting and a true master. One is non-metallic metal, and the other is Object Source Lighting, or OSL. I think it is telling that both of these are about doing tricky things with light, but I digress.

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Ruin, from Warmachine

OSL in particular sounds a over the top. Basically, it is painting the miniature such that if you have a glowing part of the model like a lightstaber or a glowing sword, you paint the glow of the light onto other areas of the model. For example, if you’re painting Darth Vader, in order to sell the glow of the lightsaber, you may want to place some red glow onto his cape where the light from the lightsaber is hitting and reflecting off his black cape.

 

Now, before we get too deep into it, let’s discuss some of the theory behind this to avoid some common mistakes. First, and let us just get out of the way first, this is the sort of technique where realism takes a back seat to artistic license. For something to really light up a model in the way we commonly do with OSL and bathe it in coloured light, it needs to be almost unrealistically bright. Which, I suppose isn’t a big deal when we’re talking about glowing swords and lightsabers, but it is something to keep in mind. We’re trying to sell an effect, not necessarily be super realistic here.

Secondly, we need to think about the ambient lighting as well. In bright sunlight, any light emanating from a glowing thing is going to be overwhelmed by the ambient light of the sun. However, if we’re on a moonless night, then the object in question is going to be the only source of light and we’re going to have strong OSL. Consider, for example, the below pictures of Aayla Secura and Darth Vader. Aayla is outside in daylight, so there is little to no OSL, while Darth Vader is in the dark and we can see the glow on his cape and hand.

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We also need to think of the relative strength of the source of the light, the glow, and the rest of the model. When you’re doing OSL, the brightest spot should always be the source of the light. For coloured light, this could almost go to white. Next should be the glow, then finally, the rest of the model not basked in the glow of your glowing object. This means that you need to make sure you have somewhere to go in your colour scheme. OSL works really well on dark colour schemes like Darth Vader; for white models like Retribution warjacks, it can be tricky to get the glow brighter than the rest of the model because you’re trying to make something that is brighter than white. Which is hard.

Finally, light tends to emit from objects in a straight line. It can diffuse a little around corners, but when you’re placing your glow effect, you need to be careful that the places that are shadowed from the light emanating from your glowing object are in shadow.

Now, if only we had some sort of device that can shoot paint out from a point and in a straight line…

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Oh. Right.

Ruin and Airbrush OSL

Getting back to this model for a little bit, Ruin is the product of a bunch of Khador experimentation with ancient Orgoth relics, so it is a warjack powered by a mixture of coal and the souls of the dead. While the default sculpt is pretty cool, I decided I wanted to kick mine up a notch by adding a glowing patch of swirling souls to the right shoulder, as well as a some poor Cygnar long gunner on the base and a wisp representing his soul being sucked out of his body and into the shield.

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Pictured: dead swan

With the model painted and weathered in largely the same scheme as my Grolar and the rest of my army, and after dropping it off my desk and having to pin it back together, it was time to hit it with the OSL. As this is a robit chock-full of evil magic, I wanted to put in a lot of glow effects. The sculpt had a number of runes carved into it, which I wanted to make glowing, as well as the shield, soul, shoulder, and visor.

IMG_0968For the soul and the shoulder, I did paint them beforehand, trying out GW’s new ghost technical paint, the Hexwraith Flame, over a near-white base. It kind of worked, though you do need to highlight this to get the proper effect, either with layering or dry brushing. However, for the runes, all I did was drop some white paint into the rune as an undercoat.

From there, we’re going to mix up a glaze in our glow colour and drop it into an airbrush, thinning it enough to increase the transparency. The only challenge here is trigger control; you may want to practice on something else first, but you want to be able to pull back just enough to barely tint the target. Once you start seeing the colour starting to change, you can simply stay on target until it you get the effect you want. Finally, it is worth experimenting with both inks and paints until you get the colour and consistency that works for you.

IMG_0969For things like the runes and the visor, simply point and shoot. The paint hitting the . Since we’ve undercoated the source of the light with white, we will naturally get the effect we want — brightest at the source of the light, and duller in the areas of the glow.

When it comes to larger objects like the wisp of souls, what we can do is use the fact that an airbrush shoots paint in a straight line emanating from a point to our advantage. Simply fire at such an angle as though the paint is coming out roughly from the light source and hitting the model. This will lay the glow in where it would naturally fall.

And that’s about it. You may need to go back and reinforce some of the light sources with a little white, or play around with some washes overtop, but a few simple airbrush tricks can get you a passable OSL in no time at all that makes you look to the untrained eye like an elite god-tier painter.

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Paintlog: Pink and purple potpourri

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted some of my painting progress so this may be more of a paintdump than a paintlog. However, I’ve done a lot lately that I figure is worth sharing.

Man-O-War

This past June, Privateer Press released a lot of Khador Man-O-War models, which, as you might have guessed, immediately emptied out my wallet and filled my backlog. I’ve discussed these models previously, as I batch sprayed them with the airbrush then got to work, starting with the tankers and then moving on to the medium-based infantry models.

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Anyways, as mentioned in a previous article, I like to do alternate-gender conversions for some of my Khador models, both to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, increase diversity in my army, and put my own little subversive spin on things. Though, between Sorscha, the MoW Bombardier Officer, and some of the fluff in NQP #05, that may be less of a subversion and more of an accurate description of the Man-O-War corps.

IMG_0727.JPGAs a result, Atanas became Atanasija and Dragos became Dragana. Both were done using bald heads from Statuesque Miniatures. For Atanasija, I kept the hat from Atanas and attached that to the head and in both cases I sculpted the hair on with brown stuff. When it came to Dragana, I did a side-swept undercut, allowing me to add in a couple scars to represent the rough and injury-prone life of a Man-O-War, particularly one as renowned for bashing in the skulls of dirty Cygnaran invaders as her.

Atanasija, Dragana, and the standard bearer were all glorious models: nice and big with plenty of detail and some interesting textures to paint. I would go so far as to say that they have pushed aside the Greylord Forge Seer as the best model in Khador.

IMG_0726.JPGWhen it came to the standard, I knew I wanted to freehand something on there but I wasn’t sure what. After mulling it over for a few days, I eventually found inspiration from a slightly unusual source: the flag of the Republic of Angola. Replacing the machete with a hammer created something that had an air of Khadoriness to it. The Man-O-War Bombardier Officer, as one of the few new releases that isn’t actually a named character, was done up in a pretty standard paint scheme, albeit with the double pink shoulder pad to represent the fact that she is an officer, and some hazard striping on her weapon because believe it or not, when you combine a chainsaw and a grenade launcher, you get something that is actually quite hazardous.

Finally, we get to one of my two favourite characters from the Iron Kingdoms: Kommandant Sorscha Kratikoff. In this case, I chose to stick a little closer to the studio scheme than I usually do as I thought she would look good in white and stand out on the tabletop if I’m playing her with a sea of Man-O-War. Howeer, I did retain the pink and purple from my standard army colours. As I was painting her, however, I noticed something interesting about her pose. If you place her flat on the base as intended, she looks to be in a pretty defensive stance, with her feet planted, her weapons at the ready, and her left leg further back to provide support. However, if you lean her forward a little bit, the pose changes. Suddenly, she looks more dynamic, as though she is rushing forwards. And, given that her signature spell in the game is literally called Wind Rush which allows her to make an extra advance, the decision over whether to go with the studio pose or the leaning forward version was kind of a no-brainer.

So, that’s it for now for the Man-O-War. I also have the chariots, but I’ve got some conversions that straddle the line between stupid and stupid-awesome rolling around in my head, so they will probably be a winter project anyways.

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Butchers

IMG_0888.JPGI’ve never been a big fan of the Butcher; guys who go apeshit and murder their own soldiers aren’t exactly sympathetic characters in my book, and when it comes to his little dispute with Sorscha over who murdered who’s father in cold blood, I have to side with my lady Sorscha on this one. Further, when I got into Warmachine, the competitive scene for Khador started and ended with Butcher3 and something about both his playstyle and the idea that if I wanted to seriously compete I had to play Butcher3 rubbed me the wrong way. So, I can say that none of the Butchers have gotten into my gaming rotation, and that may not be likely to change in the near future.

Regardless, I just have to get them all painted. I’ve showed off Butcher1 before, but my Butcher2 and Butcher3 were both interesting conversions that I did a while ago only to have them sit on my shelf for over a year.

IMG_0891.JPGFirst, Butcher3 was fairly straightforward. I had a bad experience with Nyss Hunters back in Mk.II, so naturally, I decided to incorporate pieces of Nyss and a Retribution wreck marker into the conversion. I decided that the dog on the sandbags would be playing fetch, so I added a bow in one of his mouths and an arm in the other. For the other dog, I used the base that came in the package for Butcher and threw on a sword and a severed head because, again, it’s the Butcher, so I have to crank up the gore. Finally, for the Butcher himself, I noticed that the way his left hand was posed, it would be quite simple to add some sausage links to show him feeding his puppies, which I sculpted out of a paper clip and green stuff.

Butcher2_2Butcher2 was more complex. I figured that it might be time for another one of my gender-bending warcaster conversions, but I quickly ran into a problem. If I wanted her to be tournament-legal, I needed to make her out of at least 50% Privateer Press parts. The problem is that, at least at the time I started sculpting, I couldn’t find any female models in PP’s line that had quite the Butcherly presence that I was looking for. Fortunately, a solution presented itself in a somewhat strange place: the Trollblood warcaster Grissel. I figured if I just filed off any of the lumpy troll skin protrusions and found the right head to swap out, then I’d just have to do a simple weapon swap and do some sculpting here and there to make her look more like a Khador warcaster.

Butcher2_2Initially, I ran into the problem of Grissel being so large compared to the average 30mm model that I couldn’t find a head that didn’t make her look like a pinhead. Eventually, I found something that worked – a 40mm scale head from Hasslefree Miniatures from their Kalee model. This larger scale ended up being close enough to Grissel’s size that it worked.

With the head on the body and the weapon swap working out, the next step was Khadorifying the model a little. For this, I needed to sculpt or scratchbuild a few things to make her look less trollish and more Khador. She needed a few armour plates here and there, such as the shoulder pads and the metal loin cloth thing, to cover up some of the most egregious Trollblood details. and give more of a Khador vibe. I would need to sculpt the cape and make it look like the one seen on Butcher and several other Khador warcasters, with the rectangular plates with three buttons or rivets at the bottom. Finally, I’d need to add one of those special coal-fired warcaster backpacks and some fur around it.

All of this I did with sculpting putties such as brown stuff or milliput and bits of styrene here and there. The only exception was the spikes on the shoulder pads, which were from the PP bits store; I believe they were from the old metal Behemoth model. It was also largely done in layers; a lot of the time when you’re sculpting, it’s much easier to get the basic shape in first, let it dry, then do a second layer to get the details.

After the conversion was done, these models languished on my shelf for a while as I never actually played any of the Butchers, until we started getting close to the end of my campaign to clear off my shelf of shame. There wasn’t too much special about the painting; it was mostly just using the same techniques, styles and colour schemes that have been the mainstay for this army. The one thing I did try was the use of Molotow liquid chrome markers and the ink from them to make the very highest highlight nice and bright. They seem to be useful for true metallic metals, though I’m going to need to play around with them a bit more to see if they are something that I would recommend. Particularly, I want to see how they react to brush painting and blending, and how nicely they play with other acrylic metallics.

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Escher Gang

In the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into Games Workshop games in the form of Necromunda, which a few locals have been running. Suffice it to say, it has been an interesting and positive experience branching out, and there are aspects of the game that I find liberating compared to Warmachine, even if there are also some issues that I have with certain mechanics.

The two things that have stopped me from jumping into any of the Games Workshop games before are that I don’t really want to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a second full-size army game, and that I haven’t yet found a faction in any GW game that really speaks to me aesthetically. I don’t like space marines, boxy tanks or gross nurgley things, and that wipes out a large portion of their line. I like to paint female models, and so many factions have a “no girls allowed” policy. And generally, if I don’t dislike a faction’s infantry, I despise their vehicles or vice versa. The blimpdwarves are okay, I guess, but apart from that, my impression of their style ranges from “ugh” to “meh.”

And then, they released House Escher for Necromunda, which is basically what happens when you give a roller derby team a bunch of guns. Between the mohawks, piercings, and cybernetic implants, GW basically nailed a lot of my tastes dead on with these models. I was immediately hooked, and picked up a box before I even knew anyone who was playing because I wanted the models so badly.

These were great models, though compared to a lot of other miniatures, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of fairly small pieces; even the faces and heads are two different pieces. This allows for a lot of customization as once you get the legs and torso together, you can pretty much do what you want for the arms, face, and kick-ass mohawk. Fortunately, they are made of some nice hard plastic and clean up fairly easily, so you don’t need much more than your container of Tamiya Extra Thin to get to work and customize them to your heart’s content

When it comes to painting models like these — a somewhat rag-tag group operating outside of any formal military or anything like that, you want to give each model a little bit of individuality but also have something that ties them together. This goes double for the Eschers with their over the top punk aesthetic. So, I decided to take some common elements and put them in the same colour — their armour plates, chestpiece, and shiny leather boots. With those all the same, I had at least enough of a unified theme that I could go wild and make every model a different combination of hair, skin tone, and colour/pattern on their loin cloths.

As a result, I didn’t really do much batch painting on these. While I’m sure it would have been more efficient if I had, there was enough diversity from model to model that the benefits would have been minimal. Further, I just didn’t feel like it, preferring to at least get one or two more models fully painted before next week’s game.

One slightly odd thing I did was that I added a lot of brass to their guns; while extensive use of brass on guns isn’t very realistic as brass framed firearms went out of style over a century ago, I like mixing brass and steel on my metal bits and love the look of TMM brass with a nice deep purple shade.

Finally, I made myself a little display for them out of a few bits of the sector mechanicus terrain and some sheet styrene. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a nice little extra thing that allows them to have their own special place in my display cabinet.

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Upcoming projects

At the moment, I’m neck deep in Necromunda terrain, trying to get everything I have accumulated for the campaign nicely painted up. However, as I finish that project, I have a few things in mind to do next. First, of course, there is clearing off my shelf of shame. There are only seven models remaining: a unit of Greylord Outriders, a heavily converted Vlad3, and a customized Ruin that spontaneously disassembled after falling off my desk a few days ago. I also have a couple models that I’m planning on using as pets for Necromunda, as the real models don’t exist yet and even if they did, I’m not sure I want to pay Forge World prices for them.

In the stash, I have an Me-109B fighter kit that I want to do up in Spanish Republican colours, representing the one that they captured during the Spanish Civil War. I’ve been a little afraid of some of the small parts, photo-etch and cockpit details included in the kit, but I can’t keep avoiding it forever, especially not if I want to enter it in a themed contest coming up in February. Also, with the focus as of late being on banging out armies, it’s been a little while since I’ve done a display piece, so I’d like to work on either a small model or a bust once I clear my plate.

Finally, there is always finishing those probably ill-conceived chariot conversions. Or, I could just totally blow my new year’s resolution to manage the number of unpainted miniatures I own and totally splurge on sales from the likes of Reaper or Bad Squiddo, but I would never be so irresponsible, would I?

Oh wait, their miniatures come with free candy. Never mind then.